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Hedrick v. Bathon

March 21, 2001

PATRICIA HEDRICK, PETITIONER-APPELLEE,
v.
FRED BATHON, MADISON COUNTY TREASURER, AS TRUSTEE FOR THE INDEMNITY FUND, RESPONDENT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Madison County. No. 97-MR-392 Honorable Ann Callis, Judge, presiding.

Justices: Honorable Richard P. Goldenhersh, J. Honorable Thomas M. Welch, J., and Honorable Clyde L. Kuehn, J., Concur

 The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Goldenhersh

Not Released For Publication

PATRICIA HEDRICK, PETITIONER-APPELLEE,
v.
FRED BATHON, MADISON COUNTY TREASURER, AS TRUSTEE FOR THE INDEMNITY FUND, RESPONDENT-APPELLANT.

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Madison County. No. 97-MR-392 Honorable Ann Callis, Judge, presiding.

Attorneys for Appellant William R. Haine, State's Attorney, Madison County, Philip B. Alfeld, Assistant State's Attorney, 157 North Main Street, P.O. Box 402, Edwardsville, IL 62025 Attorney for Appellee Lawrence O. Taliana, Taliana, Rubin & Buckley, 216 N. Main Street, Edwardsville, IL 62025

Justices: Honorable Richard P. Goldenhersh, J. Honorable Thomas M. Welch, J., and Honorable Clyde L. Kuehn, J., Concur

 The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Goldenhersh

Patricia Hedrick (petitioner) lost her home after she failed to pay real estate taxes assessed against her property located at 5802 Dogwood Lane in Godfrey. Petitioner's home was sold for the nonpayment of taxes on December 16, 1992, and the tax deed to petitioner's property was issued to SI Securities on February 14, 1996. Thereafter, petitioner sought compensation for the loss of her property by filing a petition for indemnity against Fred Bathon (respondent), the Madison County Treasurer, in his capacity as the trustee for the county's indemnity fund (Indemnity Fund), pursuant to section 21-295 of the Property Tax Code (Code) (35 ILCS 200/21-295 (West 1996)). Petitioner was awarded $50,000 plus costs as indemnity by the circuit court of Madison County.

On appeal, respondent contends as follows: (1) petitioner failed to plead that she was barred or precluded from bringing an action for the recovery of her property, an essential element of her cause of action, (2) the trial court erred in refusing to enter a judgment against petitioner because she failed to introduce any evidence in support of the above- mentioned essential element of her cause of action, (3) the trial court abused its discretion in concluding that the equities favored an award from the Indemnity Fund to compensate petitioner for the loss of her home, and (4) the trial court erred in admitting into evidence the amount of money previously paid into the Indemnity Fund and the amounts paid to claimants. We affirm.

I. BACKGROUND

Petitioner filed her petition for indemnity against respondent on August 21, 1997. Petitioner alleged that she failed to pay property taxes due to her "inability to manage her own affairs due to mental illness" and not due to her own fault or negligence. Petitioner sought from the Indemnity Fund the value of her house and the costs of her suit. On August 28, 1997, respondent filed a motion to dismiss, arguing, inter alia, that petitioner failed to allege facts indicating that petitioner was barred or otherwise precluded from bringing an action to recover her property. The trial court denied respondent's motion. Petitioner later amended her petition, and respondent filed a second motion to dismiss, again arguing that petitioner failed to allege facts indicating that she was barred or precluded from bringing an action to recover her property. The trial court again denied this motion.

Prior to the hearing on the matter, the parties stipulated that the value of petitioner's home was $50,000. Petitioner filed a trial memorandum in which she argued that she was equitably entitled to compensation from the Indemnity Fund because the fund was solvent. Respondent objected to the introduction of evidence concerning the financial state of the fund, but the trial court allowed the evidence, stating that it would take the evidence "at its weight." The information provided to the trial court was that in Madison County in 1992, the fund contained $600,857.48. Pursuant to statute, that amount was transferred to the general fund. Thereafter, an additional ...


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